What is Bittrex and who stands behind it?
Last Updated: 12 September 2018
From the messy scandal resulting in big outflow of Poloniex active users, to shutdown of BTCE by the US justice, raises concerns over reputation, stability and legality of existing exchanges has been on the rise throughout 2017. Most events that had occured have greatly benefited Bittrex - as many users became determined to sign up to what has become one of the most popular, liquid and high volume exchange.
In this detailed review, we will examine the doorways Bittrex followed to become one of the largest full scale cryptocurrency exchange today. Our aim will be to cover the company’s history, feedback from users, security protocols, coin offerings and the most beloved subject - fees.
Bittrex was founded in 2014 by 4 security professionals with a mutual interest in cryptocurrencies and security.
The (CEO) of the company Bill Shihara was previously employed by Amazon and Blackberry Limited as security manager as well as lead program dev at Microsoft. Richie Lai was in charge of the security team over at Qualys Amazon as well as Microsoft Corp. Rami Kawach made his career in system security over at Qualys. Finally, Ryan Hentz oversees entire security operation over at Bittrex, was previously employed by Mercury Payments Systems as senior security engineer.
Some of the Advantages of Bittrex
- US-regulated & compliant corporation.
- Very high security standards, has never been hacked yet.
- Identity verification requires min information.
- Identity verification timing less than most other competitive exchanges.
- Withdrawals limits are up to $3,000 daily / basic verification.
- The exchange supports more than 250 coins.
- Security features like 2FA.
- No deposits limits.
- Most coin is held in cold storage, ultimately enhancing security against hackers.
- Open for business in most countries.
Disadvantages of Bittrex
- Intrusive verification requirements for new york residents.
- Like most “crypto-only” exchange, Bittrex does not support fiat deposits or withdrawals.
- No margin or lending trading is supported.
- Lower liquidity may cause longer trade execution.
- Poor customer support.
- Constant verification issues.
The popular exchange is headquartered in Vegas and has its Money Service Business (MSB) license / certificate from the Fin. Crimes Enforcement (FinCEN).
The company is regulated & legally compliant with the US laws. Bittrex is one of the safer options for the US citizens. Bittrex was known to be one of the 1st applicants for stringent NY Bitlicense.
The popular exchange gladly accepts users from most of the 180+ countries. It is in fact supported by the identity verification company by the name of Jumio. I found it somewhat unusual, even for a regulated exchange like Bittrex.
Marketing: Where does Bittrex stand?
Similarweb.com claims the traffic for Bittrex to be over 98 million monthly visits. Whereas Coinbase receives about 125 million, Poloniex 95 million and finally Kraken about 45 million monthly visits. Roughly 35% of Bittrex’s traffic come from mobile device users. Coinbase & Kraken around 40% mobile users.
Bittrex’s popularity by countries
The biggest chunk of the Bittrex’s audience is from the United States (19%), then goes the Russia (6.2%) followed by the United Kingdom (4.88%), Vietnam (7.44%) and finally Germany (3.21%). Apparently Bitfinex has much better engagement rate opposed to Coinbase, Kraken and Polonex combined.
Intentionally or not, Bittrex doesn’t offer a mobile application. Though, some third-party applications still exist. These feed off Bittrex’s data provided via API. TradeBit and Blockfolio are rated pretty well by the users. TradeBit fares better than other compatible mobile applications.
Nevertheless, since Bittrex the existing 3rd party apps are not certified by the Bittrex, I would recommend doing your own security due diligence prior to making any trades.
Bittrex signup and security
The Bitrrex’s registration process is pretty easy and straightforward. The popular site does offer a 32 character alphanumeric password generator for extra security security.
Just like the most registration processes, Bittrex emails a verification confirmation for email address verification purposes. Upon successful email verification, you can be on your way to making crypto deposits and even doing some trades.
Bittrex has adopted strict IP monitoring system for account protection purposes. Upon logging in from a new ip, a confirmation email is being sent to your verified email. This process further enhances security, by protecting your account from unauthorized access.
Upon successful login, you can proceed to the settings page and enable two-factor authentication (2FA). This creates a second layer of verification. For these purposes Bittrex utilizes Google authenticator, where a new line of numerical digits is randomly generated every 1 minute. This process ensures protection for unauthorized access to your account even if your Bittrex password had been compromised.
You may also choose to setup whitelisting for any coin withdrawals. Whitelisting allows to limit the withdrawals only to a specific IP address.
Due to the strong security background of the founders, Bittrex’s is known to be one of the most secure exchanges today. The fact that the exchange had never had any major security breaches, it provides Bittrex a sharp image among some of its competitors.
While Bittrex is known to be one of the most secure platforms, users are still not completely protected from the hackers. On December the 7th, 2016, hackers had compromised a Bittrex user’s accounts without 2FA verification in place & stole an a lot of coins. Considering that all users are responsible for the security of their accounts, Bittrex has never took responsibility for the blame.
The new US cryptocurrency exchanges regulations can be tough to comply with. As we all know, most cryptocurrency was invented to easily deliver totally anonymous transactions, while keeping things quick and secure. Because of the popular unregulated nature and greater risks fraud risks, some of the unregulated exchanges like Bitfinex are still very popular among its peers.
Bittrex known to be a US regulated company, fully compliant with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) as well as (KYC) Know Your Customer. Nevertheless, the popular exchange requires its users to submit only absolutely essential information dictated by the US laws.
The company offers dual level of verification, the basic and advanced. The whole verification process is definitely quicker opposed to some of its competitors, it takes anywhere from one hour to a one full day.
The basic verification option does ask for your full name, date of birth as well as your complete address. Finally, the given information is being compared with the public records for verification purposes. A full basic verification status enables a user to withdraw about $3,000 per day. 2FA must be enabled to withdraw funds.
For some reason if public records fail to match the provided information, a system would ask for a mobile phone number in attempt to unlock some basic withdrawal.
The next level enhanced verification does ask for copies of official government IDs along with a selfie. As I had already mentioned above, Bittrex employes Jumio for identity verification purposes. The company makes every effort to make sure the person on the ID matches your selfie. The enhanced verification option would further unlock withdrawal limits of up to 100 BTC per day.
As can be seen, Bittrex has experienced a great spike in popularity over the last months months:
We've upgraded the servers again. We exceeded the previous cap of 500k concurrent users. Sorry for the inconvenience.— Bittrex (@BittrexExchange) December 17, 2017
Some funding options
Many unverified traders out there use Bittrex for making daily cryptocurrency arbitrage transfers. Users with enhanced verification are free to make crypto purchases with fiat. On trades over $10,000 there are absolutely no deposit fees.
The unverified traders are unable to make deposits directly with credit / debit cards or even bank accounts. At some point the company made statements about its future plans on making fiat transfers available for unverified traders, however the idea may never see the light due to regulatory compliance laws.
Bittrex is known for keeping most of its funds in external cold storage, with much less than a 3rd of the total coin in hot wallets. In comparison to other exchanges, that is very impressive (from the security standpoint).
For some of the higher-end users, low liquidity may mean longer delays in execution of larger trades.
Bittrex’s unlike many of its competitors, support more than 250 cryptocurrencies. This is huge!
Bittrex has one of the industry’s largest varieties of supported pairs, even dwarfing the Coinbase – supports only Ethereum, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin. Poloniex supports roughly 100 coins. The only exchanges that deliver more flexibility then Bittrex in terms of available coins to trade are some of the non US regulated exchanges like Cryptopia.
View of Bittrex trading interface
Bittrex also know to support all major hard forks. For instance, as result of hard forks, both Bitcoin Gold & Bitcoin Cash ended up trading on the exchange.
Despite the relatively high number of trading pairs, Bittrex is considered a limited exchange platform in terms of tools, features & services. It does offer Bitcoin trading pairs for all major coins as well as USD pairs for a hand few of the bigger cryptocurrencies.
Unlike some of its competitors, Bittrex does not offer lending or margin trading. Whereas, Poloniex does offer lending and margin trading to its verified users. Kraken on the other hand, offers margin trading with no lending, and finally the Coinbase provides leveraged margin trading on Litecoin, Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Bittrex takes an even fee of 0.25% on all trades. To give you a perspective, Kraken takes variable fees based on a thirty day trading volume, the rates differ for makers as well as takes takers. Unlike Kraken, Poloniex offers a very competitive fee structure base, derived from 30-day trading rolling trading history, where fees range from 0.05% to 0.25% of traded value. The Coinbase’s fees are also competitive to some extent, but higher than Bittrex’s. The popular exchange does charge US bank accounts a flat 1.49% fee on buying and selling. A 3.99% fee is charged on credit / debit card transactions.
About customer support
Bittrex provides an extended on site knowledge-base with many answers to some of the most common questions. An email support is also available via ticket system. Social channels of communications are also available through Facebook & Twitter. However, there is a huge backlog of many unresolved queries in social media’s queue.
The feedback of Bittrex’s customer service varies widely. The company maintains a relatively low Trustpilot score of 2 out of 5. For the most part, folks complain about insanely slow response rate to tickers, verification issues, accounts being disabled as well as some minor accusation of poor treatment for non-US users.
The issues regarding disabled accounts as well as verification problems could be related to Jumio’s unorthodox business practices, however when these complains continuously pouring in, questions are being raised about staff incompetence and overall company’s ability to compete in the market.
The long response times on tickets is also an indication of staffing issues, especially compared to competitors Coinbase and Kraken, both of which have better response times. A wait of up to six weeks on a ticket is unacceptable in a high-profile, high-speed business such as currency exchange. Still, Bittrex does better than some sites, including Poloniex.
I personally think that Bittrex is an excellent alternative to many of its competitors like Coinbase and Kraken. With over 250 cryptocurrencies to offer, stellar security in place and quick verification periods, Bittrex has very bright future. Its compliance with US regulatory agencies, makes it a great choice for US based traders. Nevertheless, if anonymity is important to you, considering other options might be the right thing to do. Bittrex might not be the right place for those of you trading large volumes, due to low liquidity.
Some Alternatives to Bittrex
I’ve included a list of less popular alternative exchanges that are comparable to Bittrex.
- Kraken.com – allows to trade cryptocurrency with by making fiat deposits. The platform is experiencing some ongoing UI issues. You can read more in my Kraken review.
- Yobit.net – Tons of cryptocurrency pairs opposed to Bitrex. Becoming more popular in Russia.
- Shapeshift.io – made for swapping currencies. Horrible exchange (KEEP AWAY)!
- Poloniex – Considered as one of the popular cryptocurrency exchanges today. Please read my in-depth review on Poloniex .